Displacement often exacerbates the problems women face as they flee situations of conflict, violence, or environmental disruption. Ingrid Martha Kintu works with geospatial technologies to ensure that the places where they seek refuge are safe and secure.
As a student in land surveying and geomatics at Makerere University in Uganda, Ingrid used her skills in remote sensing and humanitarian mapping to assess the more than 80 square kilometers of Kyaka II Refugee Settlement in western Uganda. Established more than fifteen years ago to receive populations unable to repatriate to Rwanda, the settlement grew in recent years with an influx of families fleeing conflict from DRC, quadrupling to more than 124,000 people. Ingrid has mapped health and water sites frequented by women to evaluate the adequacy of the education, health, water, and sanitation facilities. She has also tracked land cover dynamics within this settlement using OpenStreetMap to use and share open data, JOSM as a tool for validation, and QGIS to analyze with other layers of geographic data.
In other regions of Uganda, too, she has contributed to a better understanding of the sites where refugees settle, to promote secure and safe environments. She is currently a Research Assistant on a joint research project between Makerere University and the University of Dundee carrying out a remote sensing analysis of the historical and current impacts of Bidi Bidi and Kyangwali Refugee Settlements in Northern and Western Uganda on the environment and the potential degradation that residents are grappling with. She has worked with many aid organizations, such as with the Red Cross, where she applied the same methods to support communities of Bwaise and Kalerwe, two informal settlements in Kampala district. She has also volunteered with the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team in Uganda to improve data models and make processes more user friendly.
Thanks to Ingrid Martha Kintu, Dr. Anthony Gidudu, Makerere University; Dr. Henry Bulley, University of New York; Geoffrey Kateregga, Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team Uganda; Tom Gertin, MapGive; Missing Maps; International Red Cross; Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) International, and many others.
According to the United Nations, up to 80 million people around the world have been forced to flee their homes. Of those, nearly 26 million are considered refugees. Others may be internally displaced, and millions are so-called “stateless” people, without nationality.
The challenges faced by residents of refugee settlements may be escalated for the half of them who are women and girls, who are particularly vulnerable if they are also unaccompanied, pregnant, disabled or elderly. As a result, access to basic rights such as education, health care, employment, freedom of movement, and safe, secure, and clean environments are critical for resilience.
Ingrid says, “the extent of support that we extend to our communities more often than not goes beyond what is making world news.” She is applying her technical knowledge and subject matter expertise towards building a more secure world.
These mapping and data collection efforts, led by female emerging student leaders in the YouthMappers network, hold the potential to benefit millions around the world by making available critical, mapping data relevant to half the world’s population, so that security improves, lives are saved, power is generated, prosperity rises, and innovation happens.